China Chic-Guochao (otherwise known as the “national trend” or “national wave”) refers to the increase of consumer patronage for Chinese elements in their goods. In 2022, the Guochao trend has pervaded the Chinese consumer industry scene, and it is not leaving any time soon.
It was first popularised by Chinese celebrities with the attires they wore, incorporating Chinese designs in them. With their huge following, it was only a matter of time before their fanbase demanded the same styles from their clothing.
Today, 75% of Chinese consumers like to incorporate Guochao design elements into their everyday style, but the wave extends much further.
The trend also refers not just to clothing or everyday items but also to the general favouritism of Chinese consumers to Chinese brands, designs, or culture. Guochao connects them with their national identity, one that is on the rise, especially with the Chinese youth today. Brands are now actively incorporating Guochao into their product lines to market better with the Chinese.
For Chinese consumers, Guochao is more substantial than just fast fashion, and it requires cultural sensitivity, respect, and a deep understanding of Chinese culture to turn it into an effective marketing tool.
Brands could expand their product portfolio and create targeted marketing campaigns that highlight Chinese culture in the different kinds of fabric they use, calligraphy, Chinese art, literature, or even history.
FMCG brands can incorporate different flavours and fragrances that hint at Chinese elements with their products. Here are some key takeaways about Guochao marketing for your brand in China this 2022.
How to embody China Chic elements into your branding (Luxury brands and Older brands)
Luxury brands are hopping on the Guochao trend by collaborating with already-established Chinese Guochao brands. In this way, luxury brands hold their premium status but at the same time appeal to consumers who like Guochao.
An example is Soulland and luxury menswear brand Random identities partnering with Li-Ning, a top Chinese homegrown sportswear brand, to market to Chinese consumers more effectively. Another is Dior’s inclusion of floral printed products in their line.
Floral printing has been traditionally a Chinese folk-art tradition that Dior paid homage. Older domestic brands in need of revitalisation or those that are deemed “forgotten” by most Chinese also look to Guochao to give themselves a new boost in sales or brand recognition.
Stationary brand Forbidden City Wenchuang used this method and launched its first make-up line, which sold out within a short time. With increased consumer attention for domestic brands, these older brands are starting to make a comeback and earn more loyal patrons.
Brands can learn from this lesson by incorporating more Guochao cultural elements (flower printing etc.) into their products or starting a Guochao product line that appeals more to the younger generation, like make-up, FMCGs, or attires, to increase brand visibility.
Don’t discount Gen Z (the biggest Guochao consumers)
80% of Gen Zs prefer China-chic in their purchases, from make-up, daily items, shoes, bags, or clothes, and they comprise the largest and most influential demographic for those who patronise Guochao.
The biggest opportunity lies in the Xiachen Gen Zs, or those that come from lower-tier cities. With China’s rising middle-class, their economic or buying prowess is considerable. Xiachen Gen Zs have faster consumption rates compared to their counterparts in other cities, especially with Guochao items.
For example, cosmetic Guochao brands have a great reputation amongst Xiachen Gen Zs and have significantly lower prices. The Gen Zs buy them because they are affordable yet still competitive. While luxury cosmetics are still dominated by foreign brands, they are now incorporating more Guochao elements into their product.
Brands, especially with cosmetics, will benefit from targeting Xiachen Gen Z residents since this demographic is an avid fan of the Guochao wave. Making Gen Z-friendly products and marketing them digitally will connect brands to Xiachen Gen Z more.
Guochao extends beyond everyday products (Guochao as IP)
Guochao is entering its 3.0 era – no longer limited to specific brands but is also used in other kinds of media consumption and other cultural concepts. This makes sense because Guochao, at its core, is Chinese culture and belief, so it would naturally encompass everything that Chinese consumers take in. It is in the revival of Chinese culture and technology, and Chinese consumers are taking note of it.
For example, more and more consumers are wearing hanfu for the Dragon Boat Mid-autumn Festival, watching national-style literary and artistic works, or patronising content creators that do so.
Li Ziqi is a famous example of a post-90 food video blogger who centres around Chinese food culture. She also incorporates themes of folk festivals and the day-to-day living of an individual in rural China – a nostalgic and effective approach. For viewers, she makes the traditional culture come alive in the modern age.
Speaking of marrying tradition and modernity, Bienleuven has since co-branded with Forbidden City court culture by integrating palace culture with modern golf culture. The brand produced golfing attires that are inspired by Chinese court culture.
Young people are looking forward to seeing the unique representation of Chinese culture with the brands that they are buying from. They see Guochao as a lifestyle and not just a collection of Chinese-inspired things.
For brands to tap into this, they should adapt Guochao as an IP to be more effective in their marketing campaigns. Doing Chinese culture-inspired videos and tapping into other types of media can also bring more brand visibility.
Technology and Guochao – the next wave
Guochao is seeping into every aspect of Chinese life – one cannot escape it, given its prevalence and the sheer amount that Chinese consumers want it. The next phase of this wave would be to merge technology and Guochao itself. This is a no-brainer since the average Chinese often spend their time digitally and have more online presence than most.
Combining tech and Guochao will attract the attention of younger people. For example, during the Mid-autumn Festival and National Day, a music video with the main theme called “Beautiful China is Our Home” was released, and it was a hit with Chinese digital natives.
The move triggered discussions among netizens and has received many positive engagements in Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, etc. Using these platforms, the MV has appeared in the top 8 and top 1 of the whole Douyin site and has been forwarded to other websites. It has even been recommended on Xinhuanet.
This means that Guochao-inspired content is something that Chinese digital natives want, attracting more younger people. Another way that tech is helping Guochao is through Chinese social media.
Social media is incorporating Guochao as more people patronise it – e-commerce websites and platforms now have dedicated Guochao feeds and promotions to make it easier for consumers to find Guochao items. These sites also award Guochao-centric engagements, so there is definitely a higher demand for Guochao products.
Lastly, Guochao is also entering the metaverse. China’s neo-style is an interpretation of the cultural significance of traditional Chinese styles in the modern age, and brands are taking it to their metaverse.
For example, Chinese fashion week included a metaverse-fashion show where 14 brands walked the catwalk in futuristic, Guochao-inspired attires. This brought positive views to using metaverse for Chinese fashion and included Chinese digital natives.
Since the spread and influence of Guochao are extending to the digital world (given the Chinese predisposition to everything digital), brands can take advantage of this by listing their products on Guochao-friendly sections of their e-commerce platforms. Brands could also go one step further and incorporate Guochao into their own metaverse.
Guochao is here to stay, and Chinese consumers love it. From films to music to festivals to clothes or even to their basic needs, Chinese consumers prefer goods that are China-chic and inspired by their own culture.
For brands to effectively market to them, Guochao marketing is a must. Embodying Guochao elements to your branding by creating product lines will increase brand visibility. Don’t be afraid to experiment beyond your products, as Guochao is not just for items but is also a concept that brands must understand. Furthermore, keep an eye out for Gen Zs as they are the biggest Guochao-lovers in the market today. Lastly, look to the future since technology and Guochao will most likely be the biggest thing in Chinese consumer trends. Guochao is and will continue to make one of the largest waves in China this 2022.
Maximise your brand’s Guochao marketing strategy potential today and contact Alarice. Alarice can help with research and strategy, especially with a dynamic platform and will help you prepare with consumer research, China trends watching, and marketing targets.
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